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Marine Log

December 1, 2007

WSF finds steel problems with another ferry

In light of recent issues regarding the 80 year-old Steel Electric ferries, Washington State Ferries (WSF) is stepping up steel inspections and scrutiny on all the vessels in the fleet.

Today it announced today that the Hyak, a 40-year-old 144-car Super Class ferry, will remain at Dakota Creek Shipyard in Anacortes three weeks longer than its originally scheduled maintenance period for additional steel replacement on the vessel's hull.

The Hyak is in the shipyard for its planned maintenance period.

Most WSF annual maintenance occurs in the winter. The additional time that the Hyak will be in the shipyard may delay other vessel's cheduled maintenance periods into early summer.

"Washington State Ferries periodically measures the condition of vessel hulls through audio gauging and a routine steel maintenance program," said Paul Brodeur, Director of Vessel Maintenance and Preservation. "We not only record this by vessel, we also track issues by class of vessel to determine trends. We work with the U.S. Coast Guard to do regular vessel inspections and steel gauging."

The steel hulls of WSF vessels are gauged 10 years after initial construction and at five year intervals thereafter.

"The success of WSF's steel maintenance program is why we have been able to keep aging vessels in service." said Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond. "Safety is our No.1 priority and we work hard to keep our vessels in top condition through an aggressive steel inspection and maintenance program but we can always look for ways to expedite inspections and do more than we originally planned when vessels are in the dry dock. We can also work with the Coast Guard to be proactive in checking vessels for safety."

WSF says that its vessels work hard --most run seven days a week for as long as 20 hours a day.Each vessel in the fleet is removed from service up to four weeks each year to meet U.S. Coast Guard annual in-water inspection requirements and to complete other necessary maintenance. Additionally, each year, about one third of WSF's vessels are pulled out of the water for a complete internal and external hull inspection that the U.S. Coast Guard requires twice in a five year period

"Our engineering staff and vessel crews work day and night to keep vessels in operation," said Brodeur. "Now more than ever, it is important that we work hard to inspect all vessels in the fleet and rededicate ourselves to our regular maintenance program."

In addition to the ongoing work on the Hyak, other vessels that will go in for their scheduled annual inspection in the next month include the 90-car Sealth, 188-car Spokane and 124-car Kitsap.

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